RIP CSM Bennie Adkins, MOH recipient

 
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RIP CSM Bennie Adkins, MOH recipient

Sad news from Alabama, as we lose our first Medal of Honor recipient to the COVID-19 virus:

Medal of Honor recipient Bennie Adkins faced his last battle against an invisible enemy called COVID-19 with the same resilience and determination that had seen him through three tours of combat as a Green Beret in Vietnam, his son said Saturday.

His father had other ailments before he was taken ill with coronavirus, "and the fact that as sick as he was at age 86, [he] lasted three weeks was pretty remarkable," Keith Adkins said in a phone interview with Military.com.

Adkins, a retired Army command sergeant major, had spent all but his final two days intubated in an intensive care unit, said Keith Adkins, a doctor at the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) in Opelika, Alabama, where his father died Friday afternoon of complications from coronavirus.

Bennie was a stud among studs, as you can tell from this video:

He also did a great interview for the Veterans Oral HIstory Project that you can read here.  It's pretty clear how tough Bennie was from that interview.

The North Vietnamese decided that they wanted to engage in a little hand grenade fighting. So, the first few hand grenades, they were either over the Mortar Pit or a little bit short and finally they got one in into the Mortar Pit with this and one of the indigenous mortar crews with me tried to play soccer with it. He lost a leg, and I received some heavy shrapnel from this. The next, the next uh, grenade they got in with us, I was able to pitch it just outside the Mortar Pit and that did not do any damage either way. Then, a short time later, one came in. I have seen it coming in there and I was able to catch this grenade in the air. I sent it right back from where it came from. We received a little air burst and the North Vietnamese lost interest in the, in the mortar, in the hand grenade fighting at that time with it, so, that accomplished what we needed to do. They quit hand grenading, as one, got one right back where it came from, so, this, this was, this did end the citation and I feel like uh, this was not my ability. It was pure luck that I caught it and sent it back to them, yes.

And his Medal of Honor citation:

Sergeant First Class Adkins distinguished himself during the period 9 March 1966 to 12 March 1966 during combat operations at Camp A Shau, Republic of Vietnam. When the camp was attacked by a large Viet Cong force, Sergeant First Class Adkins rushed through intense hostile fire and manned a mortar position. Although he was wounded, he ran through exploding mortar rounds and dragged several of his comrades to safety. When the hostile fire subsided, Sergeant First Class Adkins exposed himself to sporadic sniper fire and carried his wounded comrades to the camp dispensary. During the evacuation of a seriously wounded American, Sergeant First Class Adkins maneuvered outside the camp walls to draw fire and successfully covered the rescue. During the early morning hours of 10 March 1966, a Viet Cong regiment launched their main attack. Within two hours, Sergeant First Class Adkins was the only man firing a mortar weapon. Although he was painfully wounded and most of his crew was killed or wounded, he fought off the fanatical waves of attacking Viet Cong. After withdrawing to a communications bunker where several Americans were attempting to fight off a company of Viet Cong, Sergeant First Class Adkins killed numerous insurgents with his suppressive fire. Running extremely low on ammunition, he returned to the mortar pit, gathered the vital ammunition, and ran through intense fire back to the communications bunker. After being ordered to evacuate the camp, all signal equipment and classified documents were destroyed. Sergeant First Class Adkins and a small group of men fought their way out of the camp and evaded the Viet Cong for two days until they were rescued by a helicopter. Sergeant First Class Adkins' extraordinary heroism in close combat against a numerically superior hostile force was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

RIP Command Sergeant Major.

To read more about the life of CSM Bennie Adkins, you can purchase his book "A Tiger Among Us" HERE from Amazon.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.